Below is 2018 Culver City Council candidate Albert Vera’s full questionnaire response to Bike The Vote L.A.:
1. What would an ideal transportation system for Culver City consist of? What mode options, considerations for people of different ages and abilities, and innovative features would that transportation system include?
I believe it is important for our city to look at a variety of different transportation options, including not only bicycles but also buses, shared-ride options and, of course, pedestrian pathways. The key is to be sure that whatever transportation system we support is easy to use, connects well with other modes of transportation and is efficient, safe and reliable. Today, we could create a much more robust bus system that travels down the center lane of our busiest roadways, more effectively moving large groups of people. Projects like this are eligible for a variety of government grants and set aside money. Looking to the future, technology will enable us to collect real-time data from vehicles that can be used to adjust signal timing, add additional buses to routes during heavy use periods and more effectively time connections to/from light rail, buses and shared-use vehicles. In addition, implementation of a bike-share and car-share program could augment individual vehicle usage, and shared autonomous shuttles could be another element of an effective transportation system.
2. Culver City is currently considering adopting a “Vision Zero” policy to work towards preventing traffic related deaths through roadway design. Do you support Vision Zero? How do you think Culver City should engage with its community of residents and businesses in order to eliminate roadway deaths?
I am certainly a supporter of safety measures designed to reduce traffic fatalities. In looking at the 10 vehicle fatalities in Culver City since 2013, many were single-vehicle accidents that could not have been avoided by eliminating traffic lanes in favor of bicycle lanes. Inattentive or reckless driving was most often the cause of these accidents. I believe education is a critical component in keeping people from using their phones, doing their make-up, etc. while driving and encouraging them to pay more attention to their speed and their surroundings. I also believe many of the elements of Vision Zero could have a positive effect in eliminating roadway deaths, and I wholeheartedly support elements such as pedestrian refuge areas on main boulevards; additional, lighted crosswalks; speed feedback signs; bicycle boxes at intersections, curb extensions, etc. One of the first things I will ask for when I am on the council is a community meeting of transportation experts, representatives from police and fire service, activists and advocates, as well as policy makers to work to achieve the goal of making our streets as safe as possible.
3. Culver City’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Action Plan is well under way as a means of updating the city’s vision and implementation plan for livable streets. What do you hope to see from this plan?
I am hopeful that this plan results in additional safety elements along our streets and provides a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists while at the same time balancing the needs of drivers and business owners. How and where to strike that balance remains the challenge but it is important to make sure that our streets are effective transit corridors for modes of all kinds while at the same time protecting our most vulnerable road users, including children, older adults, and people walking and bicycling.
4. In November, the final Culver City Transit Oriented Development Visioning Study and Recommendations were released, including recommendations to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to and from transit. What components of this plan do you support, and why?
I agree with many elements of the TOD Visioning Study recommendations, including redesigning intersections for pedestrian priority, increasing the width of sidewalks where possible, developing neighborhood protection plans to address cut-through traffic and establishing micro-transit options throughout the district. I don’t believe eliminating vehicular traffic lanes is the most effective method of balancing the needs of all modes of transportation. I am concerned that if we reduce lanes on streets like Washington Boulevard, those cars will seek the path of least resistance and increase the level of cut-through traffic on our residential streets. We already have issues with cut-through traffic because of apps like Waze, so eliminating lanes will only exacerbate that problem. Instead, I would work to improve and advance alternative transportation options, encourage more ride sharing and use of public transportation, including existing bus service, while encouraging developers and businesses to embrace micro transit options and private ride sharing technologies. I also support implementing a bike share program, adding additional connections to the Ballona Creek Bike Path and working with the county and the Army Corps of Engineers to more effectively maintain, beautify and enhance the bike path by adding additional lighting and emergency call boxes.
5. Since the configuration of most of Culver City public roads was set at a time when the primary concern was moving motor vehicles, improving roadway safety will require some tough trade-offs, including reducing speed limits, and reallocating parking and/or travel lanes to make room for safe biking facilities. How will you prioritize public safety, knowing that some stakeholders may complain about reduced vehicle speeds?
Creating safe streets is more than just making room for safe biking facilities. Eliminating travel lanes to make room for additional bike lanes is not a solution to the traffic and congestion issues that plague Culver City (and virtually all of Los Angeles County). I believe there are options available in our safety toolkit to address safety concerns while still allowing commuters to get to and from work in a timely manner and business owners to continue to flourish. Reducing speeds makes sense in many areas, but eliminating lanes and capacity simply shifts the problem elsewhere and would have a detrimental effect on our smaller residential streets that are not designed to handle significant amounts of traffic.
6. Do you presently bike in Culver City? What are your experiences, or if not, what would it take to make you feel comfortable biking on city streets?
My home is less than 100 yards from my work. I walk. I only bike recreationally, not as a commuter, and while I don’t feel uncomfortable biking on city streets, I recognize the need to make traveling by bicycle as safe and efficient as possible. I am fortunate to live and work in a very walkable neighborhood, and I believe our city needs to strive to create more such areas. I am hopeful that by implementing many of the safety recommendations presented in the TOD Study, we can effectively balance the needs of all types of commuters and modes of transportation.